Blacksburg Newborn Baby Photographer | Baby Ryan

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes itty bity baby Ryan in the baby carriage. Or more like the Christmas sleigh this time. Baby Ryan is named after his late uncle [you might have caught him wrapped in his uncle’s blue sweater next to a framed photo of big Uncle Ryan].

One of the big perks of a Christmastime newborn [in addition to getting to snuggle the most when it is cold outside] is that you get to get into the holiday spirit with matching jammies for the family and smooshing that sweet little baby inside of a Santa hat in front of the fireplace. It is adorable and he will hate us all for it one day when they are played in a slideshow at his wedding.

I adore Mallary and Steven and their sweet fur baby Roxy. I loved taking engagement, wedding, and maternity photos for them and now newborn photos too! It has been a huge honor watching the milestones of their relationship. Once Mallary finds her full-time position, they will likely be moving far away, but I will gladly hop on a train or a plane or even a spaceship to see this amazing family again.

What is in My Camera Bag [and How I Got it All at a Steal]


How to Buy Cameras and Lenses Cheap

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I have always been shy about sharing what is in my camera bag, but today I am going to finally put it all out there. I don’t buy the newest fanciest gear, in fact, I don’t even buy new gear. I shoot with Canon and own zero L series lenses; did that just make you physically ill, photographers? At one point I thought this made me a bad photographer, but now that I have been at this for a decade it has finally sunk in that there is very little correlation between the awesomeness of the gear and the awesomeness of the photographer on the other side of it. Don’t get me wrong, working, reliable gear is of utmost importance, but it doesn’t have to be pretty and it doesn’t have to be the newest or the fanciest.

I have been bootstrapping this business from the beginning. When I first became a photographer, I was making about $15,000 a year at my day job, hardly enough to live on let alone buy nice camera gear so I have always purchased second hand. My first used camera equipment purchase was through eBay, but I did so very hesitantly because there is really no way to know what you are going to get. Thankfully I didn’t get burned on that purchase. Shortly afterward I discovered KEH [buyers and sellers of used cameras and equipment] and it was a huge game changer for me because they test the gear to make sure it works AND give it a grade based on the appearance. Purchasing used equipment has really helped me keep my gear budget under control so I can allocate funds toward marketing and educating myself on how to use all those toys I bought!

So, what do I have in my camera bag? [and let’s be for real, a lot of this is just stashed at my house because this equipment is way heavy]

Digital Cameras
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – This is my primary camera, I love it and I use it for just about everything. I purchased it used from KEH at a total bargain due to cosmetic issues, but it is a total workhorse.
Canon EOS 7D – I have two of these camera bodies as a backup in case of any gear failures or accidents. I used to love these but using non-Canon brand lenses can mess up the autofocus, so I have been using them less and only use them with Canon lenses. Side note: if you have a Canon 7D body and the focus is out of whack from using a Tamron or Sigma lens on it, all you need to do fix it is do a hard reset by removing your main battery and the tiny battery that is in that same area that you might not even know existed until now.

Canon 35mm F/2 – My favorite lens, hands down. Sometimes I shoot an entire session with only this lens. I love it for wide shots and I love it for portraits, that vignette has my heart.
Canon 50mm F/1.4 – I love the depth of field I can get with this lens, it is perfect for portraits.
Canon 85mm F/1.8 – I really like to get close to folks when I am photographing them so I tend to just use my 85mm for stalkerazzi style shots at wedding receptions. For smaller wedding ceremonies I sometimes use this lens in lieu of a really heavy zoom lens.
Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8 for Canon EF Mount – I have a love-hate relationship with this lens. It is the one that always messed up the focus on my Canon 7D and it adds over 3 pounds to my already heavy camera body, so it can be a real killer on the wrist and back. On the flip side, the range, quality, and price are perfect for me.
Sigma 28-70mm F/2.8 for Canon EF Mount – I’m really more of a prime lens gal so I went with a non-Canon brand for this lens as well. I usually use this lens for photos of children or pets because I know they’ll be on the move and I can zoom in and out quickly to capture a moment that I might not be able to get with a prime. Not my favorite lens but works well and doesn’t get much use so I don’t feel like it would be worthwhile to switch to the actual Canon version.
Canon 45mm F/2.8 TS-E – This is the worst photography investment that I have made. This Tilt Shift Lens is manual focus which I can never seem to get correctly. The whole tilt shift thing must be done in moderation and I do it in such moderation that I don’t think I have gotten a single good photo with this lens. Huge bummer since it was also one of my most expensive lenses, but thankfully I bought it used through KEH so it wasn’t quite as painful as it would have been had I purchased it brand new. Maybe one day I’ll learn to love it, but for now, we’re frenemies.

Lighting Equipment
Paul C. Buff Alien Bees B800 – I was terrified when I purchased these that I wouldn’t ever figure out how to use them, but I did and they have made the biggest difference for receptions and any other time that I would have to work in a challenging lighting situation. These were the best investment I have made in my business in a while. I recommend the black body, I, of course, went with the neon green body and it turns out sometimes you can see it in photos, oops!
Canon 580 EX Speedlite Flash
Canon 430EX II Speedlite Flash
Phottix Strato II Wireless Flash Trigger Multi 5-in-1 Set for Canon – Transmitter, and Receiver

Film Cameras
Canon EOS Elan IIE 35mm Camera Body – I love this camera body, I purchased my first one for only $3! All of my other Canon lenses fit it as well. My main complaint about this camera is that it is super loud so I have only used it for a couple of weddings and primarily keep these on hand for my personal projects such as my Bookish series and Mermaiden series.
Lomography Holga 120CFN Medium Format Camera, Black – Toy cameras have a major learning curve, I have about a 25% success rate using this camera, I tend to forget the lens cap [doh] and sometimes the back pops off, but when it is good it is REALLY good so I use it from time to time when I’m feeling ballsy.
Fuji Instax Wide – I love this camera, but since it is bulky I rarely pack it… Now that I mention it, I’m going to make a point to start using it more! Unlike the Holga, this camera is foolproof and there’s an excellent chance that you will end up with an amazing photo.

As you can see, I have a very modest camera bag [which is a Canon Deluxe Photo Backpack in case you were wondering]. Sometimes I even strip my metadata from the images I share online because I am afraid people will judge me for not using the fanciest equipment in the world. In the end, an artist shouldn’t be judged by their tools. I photographed an entire wedding with a $3 film camera that I purchased used, and you know what? It got featured in The Knot!

Mallary + Steven | Blacksburg Lifestyle In Home Maternity Photographer

Once upon a time, I met a couple named Mallary and Steven and their sweet pit bull pup Roxy. Our first adventure was atop a big hill in Blacksburg. It was a dreary day, but they brightened it up with their smiles and love for each other as we took some photos to celebrate their engagement. Fast forward to a few months later, we took our show on the road to Asheville, North Carolina where Mallary and Steven tied the knot. The ceremony took place on the porch of a beautiful cabin they were renting along with their families for an intimate wedding celebration.

We met back in Blacksburg some time later to celebrate Mallary and Steven’s sweet little baby bump. Roxy was already making friends with her baby brother, Ryan. Their house was so stinkin’ adorable and coordinated, I offered Mallary the job of coming over and decorating mine too [I have a feeling she has her hands a little too full now]. The “Give Thanks” Banner might have given away the timeline of their photos as Thanksgiving which means some super adorable Christmas newborn photos of baby Ryan will be coming your way soon. Stay tuned!